Freedom of speech takes a hit in the U.S.

By Tom Quiner

Larry David, the comedic creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, has gone into hiding. No one knows where he is. His career is over.

It all happened quickly following a controversial episode of his HBO sitcom, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Here’s what happened in the fateful episode. Mr. David’s character was medicated with a pill that would compensate for the shortcomings of his middle-aged prostrate. In his haste to relieve himself, urine (from Mr. David’s character) inadvertently splattered onto a painting of Jesus hanging on the bathroom wall. The show milked this low brow humor for all it was worth.

Typical Hollywood bathroom humor, right?

Pope Benedict found nothing funny about another assault on the Christian faith. The Pontiff had it and blew a liturgical gasket in a public address from St. Peter’s Square.  Here is an excerpt of the stunning pronouncement:

“My fellow Christians. The American media and entertainment establishment has heaped one blasphemy after another on our faith. We have meekly turned the other cheek time and time again. And where has it gotten us? The blasphemers are only emboldened. Each act of sacrilege is worse than the previous. In the name of God, in the name of Christ, this must stop. Today, I am calling on the faithful to act. The perpetrator of this outrage must be hunted down. He must pay for this atrocity with his life.  The honor of Jesus Christ demands it. The dignity of religious faith demands it. And I demand it.”

A terrified Larry David immediately went into hiding.

The reaction from the media was explosive.

The New York Times devoted a full six pages to denouncing the Pope and the Catholic Church specifically, and Christianity generally. The Times editorial called for immediate governmental action:

“It is time for Catholic Churches, and perhaps Christian churches everywhere, to immediately lose their tax-exempt status. God, if she even exists, only knows what is being said within the hallowed halls of these so-called churches. The Church and its representatives should not be allowed to foment unchecked fear and unrest. The social order demands quick government intervention to protect us from these religious crackpots.”

The Seattle Weekly was less reserved:

“It is time for the government to board up these simmering dens of anti-secular malcontents. More Americans are going to be hurt, more are going to be forced underground unless something is done, and done quickly.”

The Des Moines Register struck a more moderate tone:

“No one believes in freedom of religion more than the paper Iowa depends on. But the time has come for more government oversight and regulation of houses faiths in this country. Religion in American has become an inefficient hodgepodge with 33,000 competing denominations. We need to move to a single prayer system. We are not calling for the establishment of a state religion. However, we advocate that we begin a process of creating a more logical and orderly way for Americans to approach their spirituality.”

Okay, this isn’t quite what happened. The Pope didn’t really say that, nor did those papers write the above editorials. Larry David is fine. Yes, he offended the faithful in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm as described above. But no one threatened him. He is rich and famous and by all accounts doing well.

Here’s the real story. It’s about an American cartoonist named Molly Norris who has lost her identity because a Muslim terrorist has called for Muslims to murder her.

Ms. Norris reacted to the self-censorship imposed by Comedy Central, the Yale University Press, and other stewards of American culture when it came to Muslim matters. Muslim jokes are out. Muslim commentary must be carefully couched. Or you may be killed.

Molly Norris came up with the idea of a “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” The thinking went that if a ton of people do just that, Muslim terrorists can’t kill everyone, can they? No, just Ms. Norris.

Muslim terrorist, Anwar al-Awlaki, the man who inspired the Fort Hood mass murderer, learned of Ms. Norris’ idea. He immediately issued a fatwa, calling for her to be immediately murdered. She is now a marked person. She is in permanent hiding. Her identity is gone. Her career is finished.

I would find at least a little comfort if the media demonstrated even a smidge of concern for this, another barbarous assault on Western Civilization. I would feel that America was unified even if the media expressed some outrage for this Muslim-imposed assault on free speech.

Here is how the Seattle Weekly responded:

“You may have noticed that Molly Norris’ comic is not in the paper this week. That’s because there is no more Molly.

The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, “going ghost”: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program – except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. . . .

Norris views the situation with her customary sense of the world’s complexity, and absurdity. When FBI agents, on a recent visit, instructed her to always keep watch for anyone following her, she joked, “Well, at least it’ll keep me from being so self-involved!” . . .

[W]e wish her the best.”

We wish her the best?

May I ask you a question? If the tables were turned, if public hits were being directed at members of the American media by Christians, if Christian-directed attacks on free speech were on the upswing in Western Civilization, would the liberal press say, “we wish her the best?”